It was September 14, 2014 when I rubbed my eyes, shook my head and stared at the monitor in disbelief. Urban Outfitters(UO) could not really be so cavalier to the four students killed at the massacre at Kent State University(KSU) in 1970 that they were offering a blood spattered, bullet holed sweatshirt for sale could they? Their grievous disregard for human loss was greeted with universal condemnation and their half-hearted apology was not embraced with anything but contempt. Certainly not that I was on the OU radar, but as a proud KSU alumni, that breach of civility was personal to me.
150 days later and a barely 2 weeks after the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, UO unveiled their latest lapse of decency: offering a euphemistically titled “tapestry” that in the words of The Anti-Defamation League is “eerily reminiscent’ of the gray-and-white stripes and pink triangles that gay male prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.”
Twelve million innocent lives were lost in the holocaust. Half of them were Jewish. The other 6 million includes Romani Gypsies, Roman Catholics, Poles, Slaves, the mentally and physically disabled and 100,000 gay men and women. Hitler’s anti-gay propaganda machine “We must exterminate these people root and branch,” began in 1933. Had I been alive in Europe at the time, my own star would have a pink triangle over the yellow one. My fate would have been sealed. Even in the desolation of the concentration camps, prevailing anti-gay bias meant those with pink triangles were treated “particularly severely by guards and inmates alike.”
That reality of death and life is in stark contrast to the battles both real and imagined over political correctness today. This past weekend, a Presidential hopeful correlated marriage equality supporters as spreading lies about the definition of marriage “just as Nazi Germany pushed lies on a massive scale.” Mike Hucakbee – fuck you. The predominance of Aryan superiority as a license to ethnically cleanse the world – that was a lie. The idea that two people of the same sex who want to commit their lives together is somehow an attack on anyone’s religious or social freedom is a lie too.
We’re all taking our eyes off the prize here folks. The enemy is not a gay couple who wants a cake at their wedding reception: we simply want to live without discrimination. Your morality in not in our cross hairs. The real threat to liberty and faith is the zealotry of ISIS.
Yes. This is a different kind of personal. As a proud Jewish man, I am offended. As a proud gay man, I am offended. As human beings, we should all be offended. The reality that not everyone will be offended by this is personally, the most offensive thing of all. And one more thing…Urban Outfitters, fuck you too.